• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

UNHCR chief Guterres signs funding agreement with Ireland

News Stories, 5 February 2009

© UNHCR/S.O'Brien
Ireland's Minister of State for Overseas development Peter Power (left) and High Commissioner António Guterres sign the funding agreement.

DUBLIN, Ireland, February 5 (UNHCR) The Irish government has pledged to continue its substantial financial support for the UN refugee agency under an accord signed with High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

Guterres, making his first visit to Ireland as UNHCR chief, inked a biannual agreement in Dublin on Wednesday with Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power, who signed on behalf of Irish Aid, Ireland's programme of assistance to developing countries.

The deal is worth 14.35 million euros (US$18.7 million) a year, but UNHCR might also seek additional emergency funding from Ireland and other countries depending on needs identified by the agency.

The agreement is an important strategic planning tool for UNHCR as its partnership with Ireland continues to grow. Like other donor nations, Ireland has had to consider cuts in its overseas aid at a time of economic recession.

But despite planned cuts, announced Tuesday, to its overseas development assistance, Ireland's contribution to UNHCR remains substantial. The small European nation also remains the sixth most generous donor for overseas development assistance internationally in per capita terms and among UNHCR's top 15 donors in monetary terms.

Ireland granted UNHCR some US$27 million annually in 2007 and 2008, consisting of a core contribution and funds for emergency operations. The money helped fund the refugee agency's operations worldwide to assist millions of displaced people.

"The agreement will help us develop our already very strong operational relationship with Irish Aid and offers a solid framework for assisting UNHCR achieve its global objectives for uprooted people," said Manuel Jordão, UNHCR's representative in Ireland.

"It's also crucial to have mechanisms this to measure the effectiveness of assistance given to us," Jordão added. An important aspect of the agreement will guide the monitoring and evaluation of UNHCR's performance, which will be reported in UNHCR's annual Global Report and at meetings of the agency's governing Executive Committee, of which Ireland is a member.

Guterres also discussed UNHCR's relationship with Ireland during a separate meeting on Wednesday with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen.

By Steven O'Brien in Dublin, Ireland

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

The Global Report and Funding Reports

A comprehensive view of the refugee agency's challenges and achievements worldwide.

Donors

Governments, organisations and individuals who fund UNHCR's activities.

The Global Appeal and Supplementary Appeals

Alerting donors, organizations and individuals to the plight of millions of uprooted people.

The High Commissioner

António Guterres, who joined UNHCR on June 15, 2005, is the UN refugee agency's 10th High Commissioner.

2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres presented Sister Angélique Namaika of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the prestigious Nansen Refugee Award at a gala ceremony in Geneva on Monday night.

Sister Angélique, through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, has helped transform the lives of more than 2,000 women and girls who had been forced from their homes and abused by fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) or other armed groups. Many of those she helps suffered abduction, forced labour, beatings, murder, rape or other human rights abuses.

The Roman Catholic nun helps survivors to heal by offering them the chance to learn a trade, start a small business or go to school. Testimonies from these women show the remarkable effect she has had on helping turn around their lives, with many affectionately calling her "mother."

The Award ceremony featured a keynote speech from best-selling author Paulo Coelho and musical performances by singer-songwriter Dido, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna and Grammy-nominated Malian musicians, Amadou and Mariam.

2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

Food cuts in Chad camps expose refugee women and children to exploitation, abuse

A funding shortfall has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to cut food rations in refugee camps in eastern Chad by up to 60 per cent. As a result, Sudanese refugees in 13 camps in the east now receive about 850 calories per day, down from the minimum ration of 2,100 calories daily they used to get. The refugees are finding it difficult to cope. Clinics in the area report a significant spike in malnutrition cases, with rates as high as 19.5 per cent in Am Nabak camp.

WFP needs to raise US$ 186 million to maintain feeding programmes for refugees in Africa through the end of the year. Additionally, UNHCR is urgently seeking contributions towards the US$ 78 million it has budgeted this year for food security and nutrition programmes serving refugees in Africa.

In the meantime, the refugees experiencing ration cuts have few options. Poor soil quality, dry conditions and little access to water mean they can't plant supplemental crops as refugees in the less arid south of Chad are able to do. To try to cope, many refugee women in eastern Chad are leaving the camps in search of work in surrounding towns. They clean houses, do laundry, fetch water and firewood and work as construction labourers. Even so, they earn very little and often depend on each other for support. In the town of Iriba, for example, some 50 refugee women sleep rough each night under a tree and share their some of their meagre earnings to pay for a daily, communal meal.

They are also subject to exploitation. Sometimes, their temporary employers refuse to pay them at the end of the day. And some women and girls have resorted to prostitution to earn money to feed their families.

Ration cuts can have an impact far beyond health, reverberating through the entire community. It is not uncommon for children to be pulled out of school on market days in order to work. Many refugees use a portion of their food rations to barter for other essentials, or to get cash to pay school fees or buy supplies for their children. Small business owners like butchers, hairdressers and tailors - some of them refugees - also feel the pinch.

WFP supplies food to some 240,500 Sudanese refugees in the camps of eastern Chad. Many have been in exile for years and, because of their limited opportunities for self-sufficiency, remain almost totally dependent on outside help. The ration cuts have made an already difficult situation much worse for refugees who were already struggling.

Food cuts in Chad camps expose refugee women and children to exploitation, abuse

New refugees from Central African Republic struggle with ration cuts in southern Chad

Since January 2014, a funding shortfall has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to cut food rations by 60 per cent in refugee camps in southern Chad. The reduction comes as thousands of refugees from Central African Republic (CAR) continue to arrive in the south - more than 14,000 of them since the beginning of 2014. Many arrive sick, malnourished and exhausted after walking for months in the bush with little food or water. They join some 90,000 other CAR refugees already in the south - some of them for years.

The earlier refugees have been able to gain some degree of self-reliance through agriculture or employment, thus making up for some of the food cuts. But the new arrivals, fleeing the latest round of violence in their homeland, are facing a much harsher reality. And many of them - particularly children - will struggle to survive because WFP has also been forced cut the supplemental feeding programmes used to treat people trying to recover from malnutrition.

WFP needs to raise US$ 186 million to maintain feeding programmes for refugees in Africa through the end of the year. Additionally, UNHCR is urgently seeking contributions towards the US$ 78 million it has budgeted this year for food security and nutrition programmes serving refugees in Africa.

Photojournalist Corentin Fohlen and UNHCR Public Information Officer Céline Schmitt visited CAR refugees in southern Chad to document their plight and how they're trying to cope.

New refugees from Central African Republic struggle with ration cuts in southern Chad

Lebanon: UN Agency Chiefs Visit Bekaa RefugeesPlay video

Lebanon: UN Agency Chiefs Visit Bekaa Refugees

The heads of UNHCR and the UN Development Programme visited Syrian refugees and joint projects in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. High Commissioner António Guterres said that the Syria crisis had become the worst humanitarian tragedy of our times.
Iraq: High Commissioner visits Arbat campPlay video

Iraq: High Commissioner visits Arbat camp

Concluding a visit to Iraq, UNHCR chief António Guterres met with Syrian refugees in Arbat camp in the Kurdistan region. Guterres noted the recent proliferation of humanitarian crises, but urged the international community not to forget about Syria, "the mega protracted crisis of our times."
Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced IraqisPlay video

Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced Iraqis

This week UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is visiting Iraq to meet with families displaced by conflict in recent weeks. After listening to accounts of their difficult journeys to safety, Guterres called for more support to help deal with the crisis. He will also visit some of the 300,000 Syrian refugees currently living in camps in northern Iraq.